August 2, 1862
Sad news reached us last night, sad news indeed, of the death of Mr Edmondston’s old friend Dr Tennant. He was wounded but slightly it was thought at the battle on James Island before Charleston & was carried up to his young wife at Walterboro, to die of Erysipilis induced by his wound. Poor fellow. With domestic happiness just opening upon him, for he barely saw his infant son, his young wife, not two years married, looking forward to a happy country home, to be cut off thus suddenly and sadly is hard indeed. I thank Thee O my God that my husband is still spared to me.
Peace! Peace! Grant us Peace! Dr Tennant was in Camden on a visit to Dr Salmond when Mr Edmondston carried me there a bride of a fortnight. Little did I think when I opened the ball given us by Dr S with Dr T that both my host & my partner would fill bloody graves! One died for his country, died for my freedom, died in the discharge of the highest duty man knows, the defence of his fireside. He fell wounded in sight almost of St Michel’s spire, in sound of the chimes which had quickened his loitering foot when a schoolboy, in sight of his Mother’s grave, of his Grandfather’s pulpit. Out on this cruel war which sows broadcast the blood of our best & noblest, gives it in exchange for the scum of Europe, the outcasts of the Northern cities. Dr Tennant it was who first told us of the Secession of S C when in that misty raw December morning we met him on the W. & Manchester road, he on his way to see the woman he afterward’s married, we to attend Papa’s golden wedding—eighteen short months ago & what changes we have seen! Death thou has had a noble harvest since then! Patrick is much cast down, as well we may be, poor fellow. He has recently seen his domestic happiness, seen him with his young wife & child, and the thought of them saddens him greatly!
Today came a letter from the Sec. of War telling Mr E that he was “requested to designate such unattached Companies as he thought could conveniently be assembled to complete a Battalion & then if the Gen Comdg, Maj Gen Hill, approves, the Department will organize the Batallion.” It came like a thunder clap upon me for I had brought myself to suppose that nought would come of his application & that after a reasonable time of suspense & waiting the whole thing would fall to the ground & we be allowed to go on as usual. Now it all depends upon the view that Maj Gen Hill will take of it & as he has heretofore expressed himself in the most friendly way & thought or seemed to think highly of Patrick’s Military qualifications, he may think it will conduce to the good of the service to have him in the field. If so, then fare well to domestic happiness for a time.
In the afternoon came brother on his way to Raleigh. Was very busy getting up things to send to his children & to Sophia: Dresses to make her little one some clothes, Turnip seed, & nice things for the little ones.
We attacked the enemy lying in James River yesterday morning about 2 A M, brought our heavy guns to bear upon their Gun boats. Instantly every light was extinguished, & a terrible crashing & splashing heard on the river. At Daylight not a boat was in sight; all had fled precipitately, & McClellan’s camp was observed to be in great commotion, but we had no means of ascertaining the amount of damage inflicted by us. An accident to one of our guns killed one & wounded more of our men which were the only casualties on our side. The orders issued by the Heads of the Army & the President are so infamous that I make a collection of them & paste them in the end of this book where they may hereafter be referred to—an infamous record which should die the face of Civilization with a crimson blush.
The siege of Vicksburg has recommenced. Nobly has she hitherto held out! Pray God she may be enabled to continue. They say that their canal is finished & that the first rise in the river will cut it out so deep that their gun boats will securely pass & avoid the batteries that frown from the heights of Vicksburg. We maintain that it must be a failure & that time will prove it. I hope we are right.
Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html